Playoff strengths and weaknesses by sport

Hockey:

Strength – Best or better teams almost always win due to lengthy series.

Weakness – Lasts about 4 months.

Baseball:

Strength – Best or better teams almost always win due to lengthy series. Notable exception, 2006 Cardinals who actually didn’t win anything – the Tigers simply lost.

Weakness – Every game starts at, like, midnight, so it’s impossible to watch them to the end.

Football:

Strength – Very compact, short.

Weakness – Single game elimination offers okay (as opposed to great) teams chance to win. See 2007 Giants.

Basketball:

Strength – Best or better teams almost always win due to lengthy series.

Weakness – Unending commercials, takes attention from the superior sport of hockey, sub-.500 teams regularly make it, they play basketball.

Thought of the day

Nary a day goes by when my thoughts don’t turn toward Thomas Jefferson’s immense intellect.

Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights.

Greatest Discovery Since Natural Selection Possibly Made

Not since Charles Darwin discovered the process by which life diversifies has a more important discovery been made (and I include relativity). In fact, part of me almost wants to say this is the most important discovery ever. Almost.

Nasa scientists have produced the most compelling evidence yet that bacterial life exists on Mars.

It showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria. The so-called bio-morphs are embedded beneath the surface layers of the rock, suggesting that they were already present when the meteorite arrived, rather than being the result of subsequent contamination by Earthly bacteria.

No, no, no. Stop. You didn’t let it sink in. Even if you’re amazed, you still haven’t let it sink in properly. It’s good evidence for life on another planet. LIFE ON ANOTHER PLANET.

This meteorite has actually been known for some time on Earth (1984), but it wasn’t until recently that better technology (thank you, science) made it possible to carry out far more detailed tests. The likely conclusion appears to be that this is, in fact, evidence for life.

As always, scientific excitement needs to be tempered with an eye toward always needing greater evidence (and there is some in the form of two separate meteorites). But that doesn’t make this any less exciting for me. It is crashingly obvious that life is wholly tenacious, so its existence elsewhere – in a Universe with more stars than grain of sands on all the beaches of Earth – is practically expected. Its close proximity and initial discovery is where the excitement really rests.

Naturopaths are dangerous quacks

Over at Terra Sig on scienceblogs.com there is an article about the current danger facing some people in Canada who may fall for the charlatan work of naturopaths. The Ontario legislature is considering passing a bill which will allow naturopathic quacks to give out prescriptions. It’s utter lunacy.

Naturopaths (I’m not sure if that’s the proper term, but they aren’t proper doctors, so fuck them) are not qualified to do anything substantial. These people run the risk of prescribing contra-indicated medicines, offering ‘treatments’ which actually ignore the real problem, and allowing them prescription rights will give them respect they have not earned. People may actually seek out these mountebanks thinking they are getting real help. They aren’t.

I recently wrote about Christopher Maloney, charlatan-extraordinaire. He wrote into the local paper implying that black elderberry has vaccination properties for H1N1. He completely misrepresented a small study (which wasn’t even directly on H1N1) and he has put people at risk. He’s a dangerous liar who is unqualified to be giving out medical advice in such a manner. The worst thing about him is that he isn’t an exception – he’s an example, an example of the sort of cherry-picking, misrepresenting, lying, dangerous people who populate the yellow pages under “naturopathic ‘medicine'”.

Here I am reposting a laundry list (originally by Steve Thomas) of why naturopaths should not be given the considerations we offer real doctors.

1) With 23,000 doctors in Ontario, and fewer then 1000 naturopaths, the argument that granting naturopaths prescription rights will ease the burden on the healthcare system is a bit silly.

2) The assertion that the body has the potential to heal itself is not a scientific one. When given “natural” support only, the body will die by the age of 45, probably of infectious diseases. Modern advances in medicine make long-life possible, not herbs and roots from a 2,000 year old playbook.

3) Saying “science” doesn’t make it so. The call of “the healing power of nature at work” to be not magic, but good science, is ridiculous on its face….the human body is really good at succumbing to pathogens and injury, and the “natural” world is really good at killing us.

4) Old and tradition do not a science make. Yes, herbal supplements have been around for centuries. So has prostitution. Old doesn’t mean effective. It means old. I want my medicine to be new, awesome, and if possible, administered by a robot from the future.

5) Regulation does not a science make, even if it was 85 years ago.

6) I wonder, what is the naturopathic remedy for a broken bone? For that matter, how effective is naturopathic birth control?

7) Why the natural fetish? If you’re dying from a disease, do you really care if your treatment is “natural” or not? Why take an herbal supplement that a person tells you *might* work, when you could take the most recent advances in medical technology that we know *will* work?

8) Natural doesn’t mean safe. It doesn’t mean effective. Arsenic, poisonous mushrooms, gravel and bird-crap are also natural and you don’t see me putting them into my body.

9) Lets not forget that many people see a naturopath because they’re dazzled by the word “Naturopathic Doctor, or ND”. Let’s be perfectly clear: Naturopaths are NOT doctors. The Naturopathy Act, 2007 allows them to be called “Naturopaths”, not “doctors.” You need to go to medical school to be called a doctor. Naturopaths just granted themselves that title as a subtle PR stunt.

10) What is the diagnostic method a naturopath uses to test if a body is “in balance”? What laboratory equipment can you use to check for “wellness”?

11) The calls that naturopaths aim to treat the root cause is nonsense, otherwise they wouldn’t be asking to prescribe pain-killers, and anti-inflammatories.

12) If naturopathy is just as effective as medicine, then why don’t these naturopaths just go to med school?

13) The medical community is constantly advocating good health, diet, nutrition and exercise…naturopaths don’t have a monopoly on knowing the merits of preventative health.

14) Naturopathic college of Ontario requires a 4-year Bachelor’s eduction, but does not require for a Bsc or any science pre-requisites. The historical GPA for entry to the CCNM is 3.3 (ranging from 2.8-3.7). Compare that to Med school, which is turning away people with 4.0 averages.

15) The length of time for training is meaningless if the education quality is so lackluster. I can study levitation for 20 years but it doesn’t mean that I could fly.

16) “Every review of our record has recognized the safety of the more natural approach of naturopathic care.” Every review? Really? Black Cohosh, anyone?

17) The authors conveniently left out the deaths attributed to naturopathic prescriptions in Washington and Oregon, showing once again their contempt for honest data-gathering and fondness for cherry-picking whatever information suits their pre-conceived narrative.

18) The CCNM is NOT associated with ANY Canadian university, and it’s dishonest to artificially conflate the two together, even if you’re being indirect about it.

19) “The need for NDs to have prescribing authority was accepted by every other regulated health profession” Not even close to accurate! The bill passed the first two readings because the relevant health care communities had approved of their OWN amendments, and was not reflective of the naturopathy amendments.

20) The CCNM also is also teaching homeopathy and colonic irrigation, neither of which do anything beyond a placebo effect….Back from your cherry-picking trip yet?

21) If passed, the committee to decide which drugs would be prescribed would be made up of naturopaths! Unelected naturopaths deciding what they can prescribe!

22) Since naturopaths *are unqualified* to prescribe medication, granting them these powers will create needless risk of drug contra-indications.

23) This is not about freedom of choice for the patient, and it never has been. This is about granting naturopathy legislative and legal legitimacy because it can’t do so under the rules of science and evidence.

The scientific community is crystal clear on medicine, yet these people would have our very modern system degenerate with some very 19th century modalities.

Oh, and this is actually a rather important post beyond trying to save the health of people. Whereas I had created a category specifically for Andreas Moritz, King Snake Oil Salesman, I think I can expand it to naturopathic ‘medicine’: all naturopathy posts shall go under Pure Bullshit from now on.

Thought of the day

You apparently don’t understand what randomness means. ‘A bias in the probability’ of something is pretty much exactly what we mean by non-random. Throwing dice is proverbially a random process. If you throw a die a thousand times, you expect to get a series of random numbers. If a particular die was biased towards, say, even numbers, it would deliver a non-random series of numbers. If natural selection is a bias in the probability of reproduction with respect to phenotype, that is equivalent to saying it is non-random. Do you really seriously not understand that?

~Richard Dawkins

So atheists can start crashing churches now?

November Edition

The November edition is here. It can be found scattered throughout the UMA campus and in the hands of anyone who wants to read something intelligent.

As seems to be par for the course, it is not without errors. The previous edition had an unfortunate number of typos. This one does not have that problem (as so far noticed), though one article (Arguing From Consequence) did have one of those weird errors where certain characters are changed to seemingly random code. It looks like it is an isolated incident only affecting a few commas, however.

On page 4 at the bottom middle is an attempt to list the email address for contacting Without Apology. It seems to have been cut off. The address is withoutapologyinmaine@gmail.com.

Enjoy this month’s edition.